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Nancy Byrd Turner


Now, speech is very curious:
You never know what minute
A word will show a brand-new side,
With brand-new meaning in it.
This world could hardly turn around,
If some things acted like they sound.

Suppose the April flower beds,
Down in the garden spaces,
Were made with green frog-blanket spreads
And caterpillar cases;
Or oak trees locked their trunks to hide
The countless rings they keep inside!

Suppose from every pitcher plant
The milkweed came a-pouring;
That tiger lilies could be heard
With dandelions roaring,
Till all the cattails, far and near,
Began to bristle up in fear!

What if the old cow blew her horn
Some peaceful evening hour,
And suddenly a blast replied
From every trumpet flower,
While people’s ears beat noisy drums
To “Hail the Conquering Hero Comes!”

If barnyard fowls had honeycombs,
What should we think, I wonder?
If lightning bugs should swiftly strike,
Then peal with awful thunder?
And would it turn our pink cheeks pale
To see a comet switch its tail?

This poem is in the public domain.


Nancy Byrd Turner (1880 - 1971) was born in Virginia. A descendant of both Thomas Jefferson and Pocohantas, Nancy began writing poetry as a child. She studied to become a teacher, and did teach for a few years, but eventually she became a magazine editor. During the course of her career, she published 15 books, several songs, and her work appeared regularly in the leading magazines of her day. Late in her life, Nancy became a freelance writer and a popular lecturer.






Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
What a fun poem about the peculiarities of the English language!
Posted 11/13/2019 05:43 PM
Good "What if?" poem.
Posted 11/13/2019 04:17 PM
absolutely delightful. i can feel the cacophony of this strange new world!
Posted 11/12/2019 01:26 PM
Larry Schug:
So simple, yet so profound, so imaginative!
Posted 11/12/2019 07:25 AM

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